Head coach Kyle Whittingham speaks with the media about Utah's signing class.
Feb. 4, 2009
I feel as good about this class as I feel every year. I feel like this is another very solid class representing areas hit hard from losses. The bulk of our recruits are from Texas, Utah and California. We helped ourselves across the board - there was not one area or position not addressed. We may be a little heavy on the linemen, with five defensive linemen and three offensive linemen. Add to that two offensive lineman who are coming back and we have 10 linemen. Our quarterbacks are in here now - Jordan Wynn and Terrance Cain. They are both going to participating in spring ball. Also on offense is a running back out of Arizona, Beau Burton, and three wide receivers (Ray Magee, Jamal Smith, Antione Smithson) to restock that position. We also have a tight end out of Texas (Colby Goodwin). We have six guys in the secondary - three safeties and three cornerbacks. Speed and athleticism is the operative word and we took another step in upgrading that in for the fourth consecutive year. It's a habit of ours to take the best available players and find a spot for them - we are not the only ones that do that. I thought our assistants did a great job and worked hard. We had heavy competition for a lot of these guys and to be able to get them is good - we were in with some of the heavy hitters. We have seven in-state kids. James Aiono is by way of Murray - one service rated him as the top JC recruit. There is the usual mix of high school and JC kids.
We had a good signing day with no drama - guys who were committed stayed committed and there were no surprises either way. A few other guys came down to the wire and went in a different direction, but I am pleased with the guys who we came away with.
On the impact of the Sugar Bowl:
There is no question there was an impact. We had two or three commitments virtually the day after the Sugar Bowl. I've said it before, but with the accelerated nature of recruiting many made their decision prior to the Sugar Bowl. We'll probably feel it the strongest in the next couple of years.
On ranking the class:
It's tough to say - I'll be able to tell you in a few years. On paper, with the star system, I think it is our highest ranked class of the last four years if you go by that. So many of our players have been two-star guys.
On players he thinks flew under the radar:
Kapua Sai had some injuries his senior year and didn't get as much play as he would have if he was healthy but we think he's good. Antione Smithson is a tremendous athlete from Baltimore and his East L.A. team didn't fare very well which often diminishes the attention. Jeremiah Tofaeono from Las Vegas is another big kid we think was under the radar. You never like to say the top guys you think you've signed because you never know but those guys weren't as recruited as we think they should have been.
On the secondary:
We have three safeties and three corners - with Sean Smith and Brice McCain graduating that left some voids. We have three JC transfers coming and two will be here in the spring. Maxwell Lacy is a big kid from Southern California - we will have him for three years. Conroy Black is from Florida by way of Fullerton and will be here by the summer. Kamaron Yancy is here now - he is an excellent corner. We bolstered our position and got some much-needed guys. Safety-wise, we took no hits. Robert Johnson and Joe Dale are both back, but in our future are three very good freshman. Chris Washington was an in-state guy and Victor Spikes and Jarrad Stewart are both from Texas. We feel good about the future of that position and an immediate impact will be felt right away.
On recruiting in Texas:
Last year we were disappointed with our recruiting in Texas and this year we were able to get six - five from Houston and one from Dallas/Fort Worth. We feel like we've had great success in Texas - Brian Johnson, Robert Conley, Joe Dale. The background in Texas gives them an added advantage. It is a year-round type deal and they come with good fundamentals and techniques. They are ahead of the curve in that respect.
Morgan Scalley hustled in there and did a great job in his first year. Aaron Alford got a good defensive tackle from Trinity HS (Siosaia `LT' Tuipulota). He was a sought after kid who had some good offers on the table.
On the coaching turnover and recruiting:
It didn't affect us much. We had seven guys on the road like always - which is the NCAA limit. We didn't drop below that number. That's the most important thing. We like to keep the coaching staff's intact but more important is the work ethic of the staff and having seven out there.
On James Aiono:
He stayed committed the whole time. Snow College did a good job insulating them from the get-go - he could have gone anywhere in the country but held firm and the coaches helped by keeping the pressure away.